July 2 - 4, 2004
Trip Report and Photos,
San Clemente and Santa Barbara Islands
with Reefseekers Dive Co. on the Great Escape

Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.

This trip was very different for me. I was in "dry dock" (diver needed maintenance). Therefore, if you were hoping to see some underwater photos, hit the back button. If you want to see how I kept myself entertained for three days on a dive boat without diving - keep reading.

The first day of the trip was spent at San Clemente Island. I could see from above that the visibility here was excellent, and, the divers said the water was summer San Clemente warm. A few kind souls winked and told me the diving was horrible - thanks guys for trying to make me feel better.

I spent most of my time on the first day watching divers take the giant stride, swim to the anchor line and disappear, and then, climb back onto the boat a short time later. This is what my "dive day" looked like.

Everybody looked so happy when they got out of the water. For me, it was a topside gutwrencher.

Fortunately, most everyone was very patient and understanding of my major source of amusement - taking photos. Many thanks to everyone who posed , time, after time, after time.

The one thing that I found I did not miss was the after dive "hair care". If hair had nerve endings, I bet it would hurt a lot at the end of a dive day. Only people with long hair probably can relate to this one.

The other difficult thing about spending three days on a dive boat and not diving is the food factor. Three sedentary days are one thing, but, not fitting back into clothes is another. I mostly tried to photograph salads, but, that isn’t what I ate.

Day one turned into day two. On day two, we awoke at Nic. Almost everyone complained that the water here was cold and that the visibility was less than spectacular. This time they weren’t just saying it to make me feel better. So….after one dive there was a two hour long trip to Santa Barbara Island.

At Santa Barbara Island, life out of the water became very special. Two Brown Pelicans came to visit. They landed on the deck as the "catch of the day" was being cleaned and processed. The begged some scraps and then proceeded to display a lack of fear of all things human. They walked around the deck, they inspected dive bags, they posed endlessly for photos, and they stuck their necks out for petting and scratches. They visited for several hours. At nightfall, they were "assisted" off the boat and back into the water, just so they wouldn’t accidentally get stepped on.

Day two turned into day three. The group voted to stay and dive at Santa Barbara Island for the final day of the trip. I settled in and did some serious sea lion watching. This final day also offered yet another bird encounter. An Ashey Storm Petrel had landed on the boat the night before and not flown away.

The bird seemed weak and unable to fly. Ken Kurtis knew a little about the normal habits of the bird and let him "burrow" into his camera case. Trying to do the best thing for the bird Ken then got on the phone and called Fish and Game. The Fish and Game official talked to someone on the federal level. Plans were then made to transfer the bird to the care of the Park Ranger. After the last dive of the day, the Great Escape moved to the ranger station to deliver the bird to the "experts". The skiff parked at the ranger station dock and Ken and Freddie made the long climb up to the ranger house, but, there was no ranger to be found there.

If you have been following this board, you know the rest of the story. One reason no one thought to simply throw the bird back into the water was because of the hundreds of gulls and huge flocks of Pelicans - it looked dangerous.

Well, that’s my story of my three days on a dive boat without diving, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks to the great group of divers , the crew, and a couple of birds I survived. Thankfully……….. soon I will be back in the water.

Got to go throw some water on my gills. Until next time: